The fire tower was built in 1933
Start your hike on the other side of gate (sign is back right)
Bearwallow Mountain is just 19 miles from downtown Asheville, on the way to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure (near Gerton). It's also just 16 miles from downtown Hendersonville and 10 miles from Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Gorge. Thanks to the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, a newly constructed trail by volunteers welcomes hikers to this bald summit at 4,232 feet elevation with panoramic views.
Located on the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge, the woodland hike ends at a grassy meadow at top, home to friendly, grazing cows during the summer. The historic fire lookout tower marks the summit (not open for climbing) along with a ugly but necessary collection of communication towers. See sweeping views northeast to Mt. Mitchell and west to Hendersonville.
After driving a mostly unpaved road up the mountain for two miles, park roadside at the top of the ridge. You'll see a gate in front of the service road that goes to the top. Walk around the gate and look for the big sign that marks the Bearwallow Mountain Trail. This one-mile trail climbs 537 feet in elevation, so it's strenuous but not difficult. We recommend climbing the mountain on the trail (mostly shaded) and walking back down the service road for a two mile loop hike.
Despite being names for bears wallowing in the meadows below, bear sightings are rare. Camping is not allowed on the mountain.
The North Carolina Forest Service fire tower was used until the mid 1990s to watch out for forest fires. Unfortunately, hikers are not allowed to climb the tower. In 2009, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy secured protection of 81 acres on the mountain and working to secure 500 acres. Then the trail will connect to their Florence Preserve in Hickory Nut Gorge and Chimney Rock State Park.